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Online reviews are a quick and easy way to gauge public opinion to a company or its products, but how much can they really be trusted? In the digital age, the Internet is often the first port of call when seeking information prior to a purchase, and so online reviews play an extremely important role to consumers and manufacturers alike.

In this article we take a look at several of the pros and cons when it comes to using online reviews, and examine whether they are a fair and accurate indicator.

Many companies actively seek product reviewers, and offer incentives, either financial or – commonly – a free sample of the product. There is of course nothing at all underhand about this, but it is more likely to result in favourable opinions and reviews. Some sites even pay people to write positive (or indeed negative) reviews of a specific product in order to meet a company goal – be that to enhance their own company’s reputation or adversely affect a direct competitor.

This latter point is important – the Internet is a very powerful tool and carries a strong influence on its users: should a product receive a handful or disparaging reviews posted on its website or in a more general forum, this can be extremely detrimental. Conversely, products and companies can also receive a major boost by virtue of online “word of mouth”.

It is also perfectly possible for companies to filter or remove comments they have received prior to publication on their website – it’s highly unlikely, for example, that a very negative review of a product would appear on a manufacturer’s own site; glowing reviews or testimonials are however commonplace. It is also quite often the case that satisfied customers may prefer not to post opinions or reviews of their goods or a service received, whereas customers with a bad experience may wish to share their views publicly.

In order to receive a more informed opinion of a product or service, third party or specialist review websites are a good port of call. Major supermarket chains and sites which sell a wide variety of products, such as Amazon or Argos for example, offer a wide range of reviews on many of their products – often accompanied by a series of rankings for such factors as speed of delivery, the quality of the product itself and any aftercare or service received. This also helps consumers to weed out negative reviews based solely on a delayed or lost delivery – it’s not unusual to find highly negative reviews posted on some sites simply because the product turned up late: the purchaser may be delighted with the product itself but the review may not even describe this.

A sensible rule of thumb when analysing customer reviews is to look for a reasonably large body of opinions, discount the extreme ends of the comments (both positive and negative) and use the remainder as a guideline. It is also worth seeking out product reviews across a variety of sites (where possible) – one site may carry a number of bad reviews, while another could be overwhelmingly positive about the same thing. With a little research and a few extra clicks, the Internet can be an extremely valuable source of information.

A good example of using comparison or review sites is the UK energy market. The recent round of price hikes among the major suppliers has left consumers scrambling to find the best deal for their domestic energy: with a growing number of comparison sites available, customers can analyse public opinion on British Gas or read Ovo energy customer reviews before committing to a new supplier.

My kitchen is tired, almost as tired as I am, but not quite.

It needs some tender loving care, potentially a complete overhaul – but cost always remains a factor when it comes to waking up the home.

However, I do have some exciting news – Magnet have got some great February deals on over on their website.  It is more than worth checking out if you are in the mood to do some re designing in the home this year.  Plus, what could be nicer than a new kitchen?

 

Our kitchen is the focal point of the home, where the kids tell me about their day as I make the next days packed lunches, it is where my husband greets me when he comes in from work, it is where I spend a bit of time relaxing on a weekend after a hefty baking session.

So, Magnet have an exclusive online sale on – but you have to be quick – it is only on until the end of February.

If you enter your email here:  www.magnet.co.uk/discount-voucher and read the full terms and conditions on the site you can download a voucher to use to buy your dream kitchen from one of the ranges currently involved in the promotion.

Sales like this means creating your dream home doesn’t have to break the bank.

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Competition is in the air.

The winter Olympics is all over the TV, and we are feeling patriotic as a family.

However tonight, that all ends.

Tonight we are pitting ourselves against each other and prepare to fight to the death to win our Family Games Night.

That may sound a little harsh but you may not quite realise how competitive my family is, starting with my husband and working down to my youngest child.  The kind folks at TwoLittleFleas have challenged my brood to put down the phones and the tablets and engage in a great British tradition of board games.

Tonight is the night.

Let me introduce you to the contenders.

My son: possibly the most forcefully competitive amongst us, he looks angelic but this child has a flaw.  He cannot lose, it is the worse feeling in the world for him and he will do anything in his power to avoid it.  Top games include: Snakes & Ladders and Junior Pictionary.

 

 

The girl, my eldest daughter.  Known for her determined nature and inability to accept defeat.  She rates herself as the queen of Ludo and is a demon at Snap.  My advice is: don’t cross her….

 

 

 

She looks like a cutie pie, but this child has no respect for the rules, determined to win at all costs and too little to really comprehend the concept of most games she cheats until victory is hers.  Best games are Hide and Seek Peppa Pig and Moshi Monster Matching.

 

Look at that face, it means business, the children inherited their competitive streak from this man, he is not to be underestimated.  Preferred games are Scrabble and Black Jack.

 

 

 

 

 

My competitive brood, and of course myself, I really just join in for the fun, I don’t mind if I win or lose, although I do normally win.

And boy, I like how it feels when I win.

So the challenge…

We are embarking on a game of Snap to warm up the competitive genes and then a game of Monopoly first, I fear Scrabble may be a step too far for the children as linguistically the small one can’t read and the big one (Daddy) is a poor speller.

We have chips and dips, and a huge chocolate bar for the winner (me).

It could get messy….

Bring it on.

Many thanks to twolittlefleas for helping out with some family bonding time!

The Next Day – Update

Last night was fantastic.

We had so much fun and not one single bout of fisty cuffs.

The winner was my eldest daughter, although don’t tell the small one that as she went to bed under the mistaken belief that she was the champion.  She actually demolished more hotels than she built.  My son took the defeat gracefully but reminded us for the next hour that he was the reigning victor at Snap.

The best thing about having a night in together was that it didn’t cost anything, but was a great family experience. Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a good time with your children, or in this case we didn’t have to spend anything at all.

 

 

My postman must question what I do for a living.  He is forever bringing parcels of every shape and size to my door, it is one of the perks of being a blogger, that I get to review some fabulous things and impart my wisdom on the world.

However, I fear the postman may feel I have an over enthusiastic spending finger and am addicted to Amazon and eBay.

I must confess to having a mild blush when my latest parcel arrived, as it is one for grown up eyes only, and I had to sneak it into the bedroom to have a quick look.

It is a massage gel…..

For us adults in the home, obviously.

Made by Durex, Embrace is a duo of sensual pleasure gels, one that gets you all warm and tingly and one that excites the senses.

I giggled like a school girl when I opened it.

I have to confess that I love a massage, it doesn’t have to lead to the act of baby making, in fact more often than not it leads to the act of sleep, but it is a rare occasion that I get a rub down from him indoors.

So the scene was set, I created a mood…..

I set a Mickey Mouse candle burning (it was all I could find) and set some tunes flowing from the iPad.  Convincing the other half that this was work I forced gently cajoled him into giving me a massage.

It was all going quite nicely, my shoulders were losing their tension, I was still awake, and Adele was crooning happily in the background.

Then…….

Adele faded out and the next song began,

“Postman Pat, Postman Pat,”

Never use iPad shuffle, it will ignore any perfectly good mood creating tunes and leap to the most inappropriate song choice when you least expect it.

In my hurry to rid the room of Pat and his black and white cat, I launched Mickey Mouse and his burning ears across the room as I reached for the iPad.  Then I threw myself from my massage table (read: bed) to blow Mickey out before the house was set ablaze by mine and Pat’s passions.

I then sat on the floor panting for a moment, checking I was alive and the house not on fire.

Then I heard a cheeky little voice call,

“Mummy, why are you and Daddy watching Pat?”

It was at this point that I realised that him indoors had left the room and was happily channel surfing in the lounge.

I settled the small one, turned off the iPad, enjoyed the soft relaxing glow that was settled on my shoulders and joined the other half in the lounge.

“Good stuff, that Embrace,” he muttered whilst draping an arm around my shoulders, “let’s try it again when your mum has got the kids.”

I this that is a cracking plan!

Disclosure: We were commissioned to write about Embrace which retails around £10.95 – not a bad price to pay for a bit of pleasure.  You can find out more at their website and watch a cracking video to show you what this stuff can really do!

Enjoy!